Author: Amanda

How to Survive Your Sunday Shrieker

 You sit in your pew as the priest begins, “Let us confess our sins unto Almighty God.” And behind you, a shriek, a “barbaric yawp” (as one parishioner described it) rips through the sanctuary. You say to yourself, “Lord, help us and deliver us.. And may I never have a Sunday Shrieker.” But they come to all parents, at the fullness of time, when the moment is  ripe for sanctification and shame. So, we’ve put together a guide on how to survive your Sunday Shrieker, giving you the essentials for how to identify and then react, when you encounter a Shrieker in the wild (i.e. in your own family). The Parrot No worries here — this is the imitation shriek. This is the baby’s drone as they seek to join the congregation chanting the Gloria. Everyone thinks it’s cute, so you can stay put, cheerfully (and pray that it doesn’t go downhill). The Bat This is a friendly and happy kind of shriek. Yes, it’s very high-pitched and may cause hearing loss if too close. …

Imagining Musical Culture

Music was a primary reason that we became Anglican. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on music for a series by Humane Pursuits. In this series, we’re addressing the ways that music shapes the soul and community and teaches us about the order of the world, as well as giving practical ways to build musical culture in the home, church, and wider community. Most of my thoughts on musical culture spring out of the influence of Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio. My husband and I were his interns in the summer of 2012 and we are always aware of the debt of gratitude we owe to him. He is a major reason that we became Anglican (and don’t dread church every week). The first two posts have been just published. Imagining a Musical Culture In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder remembers her Pa playing his fiddle as she waited to fall asleep. She “was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were …

Counterpoint & Marriage

I sat in the concert hall next to the only empty seat. The Bach Trios, with Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer, had been sold out for months. The empty seat belonged to my husband. And, while I was listening alone to Bach, he was listening to the screams of our 9 month old as he drove around and waited for her to fall asleep. To explain how this happened would require too much background. But there really was no other way. In the weeks before the concert, my husband had started a great new job. And, while I was so thankful, I was also envious, comparing his new work environment with my limitations. Every toddler meltdown and baby night waking made me more frustrated. Knowing me, my husband saw I needed time to attend to beauty; and so, I ended up at the concert of a lifetime, with the music that my husband and I intensely love together, all by myself. And, that night, was an epiphany in sound. I remembered what I …

Ascension Day: Christ Our King and Brother (Archives)

In the past, when I’ve thought about the Ascension, I’ve wondered, “What’s the big deal about Christ floating up into the clouds?”  I’ve felt that perhaps, it may be slightly anti-climactic after the resurrection event. My imagination also has been stunted, since I can’t seem to picture the Ascension in any way that doesn’t seem ridiculous, whether flannel-graph-childish or Cape-Canaveral-Spaceship-launch. But this year, meditating on this event has brought me great joy because this statement has been singing through my mind: The Ascension means that Christ is our King and is also our Brother. The Ascension is more than a miracle showing Jesus’ mastery over the physical world. It is Christ’s enthronement, when he is seated at the right hand of God as King and Priest. To be seated at God’s right hand is a frequent Biblical metaphor, especially noteworthy in Psalm 110, where a figure is foretold who unites the offices of King and Priest, with all things subjected under him.  Hence, right before his Ascension, Christ could declare “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given …

Holy Week Hymns (Or, When Nothing Else Gets Through)

If you, like me, are struggling with what it means to observe Holy Week as a parent, if you have little time to meditate in silence and find most of your observances to be hijacked by whiny toddlers, I was reminded today of the power God has given to music to reach and shape our souls (even when we are annoyed with our kids and foundering in Holy Week intentions). We sang the following two hymns during our Spy Wednesday service today and both managed to get through to my not-particularly-soft heart. Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power; Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour, Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray. See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned; O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained! Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross. Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet, Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice …

Evening Prayer with a Xylophone

This post continues our series on the BCP in Daily Life. If you’re interested in submitting a reflection, email a 400-600 word post to thehomelyhours@gmail.com. I find it really helpful to read what other families do in terms of daily prayer, in order to know what is reasonable to expect and also to be inspired with what is possible. So, I thought I would write about my little family’s evening prayer routine, as an example of the very minimum, the least difficult or inspiring  (a beginner family’s daily prayer). We have a 3 year old and an 8 month old. We began realizing it would be possible to actually incorporate our toddler into evening prayer Advent of 2015, when she was almost 2 and she looked forward every evening to lighting (and attempting to blow out) the Advent candles (see video below. ) So every evening, we turn off all of our lamps, we light the candle that we got last year for Candlemas (with Bley’s lovely printable, which our daughter has so enjoyed), and we kneel …

Why Community Needs Music

I recently wrote a piece for Humane Pursuits, in answer to their call for posts on community. I’m persistently, unceasingly thankful for our church community at Christ the King. And, I think some of the reason that we have grown to be who we are is because of our musical culture (mostly thanks to our priest, Fr. Wayne McNamara): At my husband’s big 30th birthday party, we sang the Doxology before eating, like we normally do in our church community. Later, a musical friend, dependable for understatements, dryly observed: “I like how we just sang the best rendition of the Doxology in the the greater Ohio area and it wasn’t any big deal.” We sing together a lot — not because our congregation is composed of vocalists; we’re actually extremely average. Instead, our church has slowly grown a musical culture because of our priest, who insists that the “congregation is the choir” (we are high church Anglican; so, for example, our “sung service” includes a lot of chanting and difficult hymns without time signatures). To make …

Shrove Tuesday + Hot Cross Buns Recipe

When we became Anglican and my husband found out that a pancake dinner was incorporated traditionally into the church year, he knew we had come home. Something like “The Prayer Book, Church Year AND Pancakes: What More Could You Want?” would somewhat convey his exuberance at the discovery. And this year, my (almost) three year old is also pretty excited about the prospect of pancakes and getting to play with her little friends while we set up for our church’s party tonight. (Read more about Shrove Tuesday at Full Homely Divinity). Meanwhile, for the first time,  we made hot cross buns to eat for Ash Wednesday tomorrow. Nevermind that my daughter was still in her pajamas/pull-up and my house was falling to pieces around us, I’m feeling fairly happy about this. They aren’t traditional, since my daughter dislikes raisins. But, our main fare tomorrow will be the hot cross buns and cheese (since we have children and I’m a nursing mother). I know that some people only eat the hot cross buns on Good Friday, but …

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter

As we prepare for Lent this year, I’m thankful to own a great new resource — Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary (a very thoughtful gift to my daughter from her godparents). In the book, Alary sets out a map for Lent, explaining in simple but lovely prose that Lent is for “making time,” “making space,” and “making room” for the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. She connects the seasonal rhythms of the natural world and the liturgical rhythms of the church calendar. The illustrations by Ann Boyajian are subtle and evocative, very appropriate to the subject matter. I’m going to use this book as a guide to our Lenten journey, planning to incorporate the practices and traditions that Alary mentions: Lenten Candles Making Pretzels (I didn’t know this fascinating background!) Spring cleaning (i.e. “make space” in the house) Plant a Easter Garden Eat plain meals and cook with strict limits Be hospitable I’m hopeful that reading this book often and using it as a map will help our 3 year old …

If I handcraft artisan shoes for St. Nicholas Day, but have not love…

If I learned how to handcraft artisan shoes for my child for St. Nicholas’s feast day, but have not love, I’m only a stressed out mom going overboard. And if I read and share all the best Advent quotes, and meal plan every day according to the liturgical calendar, and if I even remember to order wheat from Amazon to plant on St. Lucy’s day, but have not love, I am nothing. If I KonMari away everything I have, and if I deliver up my body to childbearing and breastfeeding, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient (when my toddler wants to do something “by myself” yet again); Love is kind (when I want  to roll my eyes at a friend’s seeming melodrama); Love does not envy or boast (when I feel insecure about someone else’s beauty or choices); It is not arrogant (when I think I can do more than everyone else because, apparently, I’m exceptional) Or rude (when I make my child be polite, but don’t apply the same standards to …